Improved Surface Operations focuses on improved airport surveillance information, automation to support airport configuration management and runway assignments and enhanced cockpit displays to provide increased situational awareness for controllers and pilots.
Phases of Flight
Timeline for Achieving OIs and Capabilities
1 Formerly Airport Surface Surveillance Capability (ASSC).
2 Surface Indications/Alerts (SURF-IA) is in the concept maturity phase and the implementation time frame is being revisited.
3 Timeline updated to reflect contract award.
4 Departure Routing Increment 1 2012 has moved to Collaborative ATM portfolio, name changed to Route Availability Planning 2013, timeline updated to reflect program baseline.
5 New capability added for 2015 timeframe to provide initial surface traffic management.
6 Airport Configuration Management, Runway Assignments, Scheduling and Sequencing, and Taxi Routing capabilities associated with this OI have been updated to reflect current agency plans.
Selected Work Activities
1 OI 102406: Provide Full Surface Situation Information (2016-2019)
- Supported by Automatic Dependent Surveillance–Broadcast (ADS-B)
- Completed: Published vehicle ADS-B advisory circular
- Completed: Declare situational awareness and alerting of ground vehicles operationally available at
- BOS (Page 6)
- Deploy additional squitter units at
- Establish FAA infrastructure that supports of ground vehicle surveillance at:
2 OI 103207: Improved Runway Safety Situational Awareness for Controllers (2012-2016)
- Supported by ADS-B
- Completed: Awarded contract for Expansion of Surface Surveillance
- Initiate factory acceptance testing
- Deploy Expansion of Surface Surveillance for operational use at
4 OI 104207: Enhanced Surface Traffic Operations (2014-2018)
- Supported by NextGen Data Communications (Data Comm)
- Completed: Achieved final investment decision for Data Comm tower service
- Complete Revised Departure Clearance (DCL) trials procedures and training development
- Deploy revised DCL via Data Comm for operational use to suitably equipped operators operators
5 OI 104209: Initial Surface Traffic Management (2012-2017)
- Supported by NextGen Terminal Flight Data Manager (TFDM)
- Completed: Completed installation of Data Distribution Units at Airport Surface Detection Equipment-Model X (ASDE-X) and Airport Surface Detection Equipment-Model 3 (ASDE-3)/multilateration locations. Provide data dissemination capability at:
- Completed: Published FAA Order 1200.22E
- Complete documentation in support of an initial investment decision for TFDM
- Complete documentation in support of a final investment decision for TFDM
- External Surface Data Release - Publish to NEMS from all sites that have ASDE-X and ASSC
- Provide Initial Surface Management System to selected sites
Descriptions of OIs and Capabilities
at least one site
Surface situation information will complement visual observation of the airport surface. Decision support system algorithms will use enhanced target data to support identification and alerting of those aircraft at risk of runway incursion.
In addition, non-ANSP functions, such as airport operations (movement and non-movement areas) and security operations, will benefit from information exchange and situational awareness of surface position and movement of aircraft and equipped vehicles.
Situational Awareness and Alerting of Ground Vehicles
Equipment compatible with airport surface surveillance, e.g., ADS-B Out, will be installed in airport ground vehicles that operate in the movement area. The capability will allow the surface surveillance equipment to display a target representing equipped ground vehicles on air traffic control tower displays and on aircraft cockpit electronic surface maps. The equipment will also be compatible with runway incursion indicating and alerting capabilities, warning controllers of ground vehicles entering an active runway similarly to warnings for intruding aircraft.
Task Force: Surface
Expansion of Surface Surveillance
Nine airports using the ASDE-3/Airport Movement Area Safety System for situational awareness and surveillance of the airport surface, and not scheduled to receive ASDE-X, will receive the ASSC. ASSC receives inputs from multilateration system sensors, ADS-B, and Airport Surveillance Radar/Mode Select terminal radars. This will provide a fused target position of all transponder-equipped aircraft and ADS-B-equipped ground vehicles on the airport surface movement area, as well as aircraft flying within five miles of the airport, for display in the airport control tower. The ASDE-3 primary surface radar will be decommissioned after ASSC installation.
Improve Low-Visibility Taxi (EFVS)
The FAA and industry are partnering to develop a taxi benefit for aircraft equipped with certified enhanced vision systems. Currently, Enhanced Flight Vision System (EFVS)-equipped operators can use their EFVS only for approved situational awareness and safety while on the ground. Some operators have requested that they be authorized taxi benefits when their company's weather minimums are lower than an airport's weather operating minimums and if their aircraft are equipped with EFVS. The FAA is evaluating the feasibility of this request in concert with other activities related to improved low-visibility surface operations.
Revised DCL via Data Comm
A DCL Data Comm capability will allow controllers to rapidly issue departure clearance revisions, due to weather or other airspace issues, to one or more aircraft equipped with Data Comm. The use of Data Comm for this type of capability has both safety and efficiency benefits over the current voice-based method of communications between controllers and pilots. This initial implementation of DCL is planned for radios and Future Air Navigation System messaging as the link scheme.
Task Force: Data Communications for Revised Departure Clearance, Weather Reroutes and Routine Communications (39)
Task Force: Surface
Provide Initial Surface Management System
This increment will provide an initial surface situational awareness capability to FAA facilities outside of the Air Traffic Control Tower (ATCT), specifically in the Traffic Management Unit for Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON), Air Route Traffic Control Centers or Air Traffic Control System Command Center. This capability will provide improved knowledge of surface congestion in these facilities, and improved coordination of air traffic control and Traffic Flow Management actions across several facilities. It is envisioned to include a display of the current surface situation, e.g., using ASDE-X data.
Stand Up TFDM Scheduler/Sequencer
This capability generates and displays a projected runway schedule showing arrival and departure demand, improving departure schedule integrity. It provides Traffic Flow Management constraints to tower controllers, such as Expected Departure Clearance Times. This capability also generates and disseminates flight state data.
Migrate to Electronic Flight Data Exchange
This capability provides for the introduction of Electronic Flight Strip capability in the ATCT, including updated flight coordination with TRACON, and potentially also including the replacement of the interface with En Route Automation Modernization. It replaces paper flight strips and several prototype electronic flight strip implementations.
Integrate Surveillance Data with Flight Data (Surface)
This capability is intended to integrate surface surveillance functionality (e.g. ASDE-X, ASSC), including safety logic, onto a more capable platform. This will include the integration of full flight plan information with surveillance data, and also provide the basis for Surface Traffic Management.
Establish Enhanced Data Exchange with Flight Operators (FOC)
This increment will provide architecture, data standards, and policy for FAA to exchange data with flight operators. FAA will make surface flow management data and plans available to flight operators. In return, flight operators will make updated flight-specific information, including updates of pushback readiness times and parking locations available to FAA. Policy and procedures will govern how the information is shared, how the data can be used, and how flight operators participate. Exact data to be exchanged will be determined by the Collaborative Decision-Making process.